BNP Paribas and the Solar Impulse Foundation, created by Bertrand Piccard, have launched last May a new investment fund dedicated to supporting clean tech, innovative startups that act in favour of the environment. The fund was developed at a time when Solar Impulse has also achieved its goal, with the support of partners including BNP Paribas, of labelling more than 1,000 innovative solutions designed to protect the environment.

BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture fund: A solution accelerator

The BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund is managed by BNP Paribas Agility Capital and intends to invest  150 M in high potential startups committed to the ecological transition. The Fund aims to accelerate their development and help them scale up.

Based throughout Europe and the United States, the startups receiving support are active in many sectors, such as clean energy, sustainable food and agriculture, and circular economy. Each start up selected by the fund is evaluated by the ‘Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions’ label.

BNP Paribas commits € 75 M to the fund, with the remainder being opened to professional investors sharing the same ambition as BNP Paribas and the Solar Impulse Foundation to support the Ecological Transition and work towards the achievements of 8 UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

A long-standing commitment to green tech financing

The creation of this fund is fully in line with a process initiated several years ago by the Group, which aims to support young and innovative cleantech companies. At the end of COP21 in 2015, BNP Paribas created a team dedicated to investing in energy transition startups and allocated  100 M for this purpose. Investments were then made in startups working in areas such as energy efficiency, and waste management, and sustainable mobility.

Over the past five years, BNP Paribas has developed a strong culture and expertise on financing and support issues for these startups from multiple geographical areas and with specific needs. Some of the companies already supported by the Group include: Heliatek, a German company that developed a low weight, low carbon organic photovoltaic film; or Metron, a French start up that is deploying a software solution designed to improve the energy efficiency of industrial sites, which is a key enabler for global industrial corporates to meet their Net-Zero carbon emission targets.

Innovative and cost effective solutions for the environment

For Jean Laurent Bonnafé, Chief Executive Officer of BNP Paribas, “The creation of this fund marks a new chapter in the joint actions carried out by BNP Paribas and Solar Impulse since 2017 to preserve the environment.” Prior to the creation of the BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund, the Group’s support went to helping Solar Impulse achieve the labeling of ‘1,000 cost effective solutions to protect the environment.’ An ambitious target, which was reached on April 13th.

Sustainable development experts from across the Group have directly engaged with the Foundation to help achieve this goal as expert advisers.  Several business lines have also played a key role in creating and deploying these 1,000 solutions, through entrepreneurial projects developed within the Group or supported by it. These include:

  • Climate Seed, a market place originally developed within BNPParibas Securities Services, which structures the voluntary carbon credit market;
  • BNPParibas 3 Step IT, a joint venture with BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions that delivers comprehensive and sustainable technology equipment lifecycle management solutions.
  • THEAMQuant Europe Climate Carbon Offset Plan, a fund created in partnership with BNP Paribas Global Markets and managed by BNP Paribas Asset Management.

Once labelled ‘Solar Impulse Efficient,’ these initiatives are also subject to rigorous assessments by independent experts, which measure both feasibility and efficiency from both an economic and environmental perspective.

“There will be no future for society without a successful, long term energy transition. This transformation can only be undertaken collectively and requires technical and technological service solutions. To meet the challenge of selecting 1,000 solutions that promote environmental protection while being cost effective, the Solar Impulse Foundation helps us achieve this goal in a very practical way and in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”  

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé – Director and CEO, BNP Paribas